State of the Nation

*Any statements in this issue of the Watch which are not sourced are mine and identified by “WW”.

36.9 % of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, 54.7% say it is on the wrong track. [Real Clear Politics, 5/1]

58% of Americans say that economic conditions in the country are only fair or poor. 43% say conditions are good or excellent. In the same survey respondents were asked whether the President’s economic policies helped them. 57% said they helped people with more money than they have, 29% said they help everyone, 5% said they help people like themselves. [Fox News, 4/24/18]

In early April, 29% of us were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. This is down from 36% in February. Between February and March, satisfaction among Republicans dropped from 67% to 51%. Among Independents it dropped from 31% to 25%. Among Democrats it remained in the tank. [Gallup, 3/11/18 and 4/11/18]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2018 is 3.9%. This is the lowest it has been since 2000.

If one takes into account the total number of unemployed + those marginally attached to the labor force + those working part-time who want full-time work, the unemployment rate for April 2018 is 7.8%.

The number of unemployed persons vs the number of jobs opening is now 1 to 1. In July 2009 there were 6.6 unemployed persons per job opening.

The Demographics of Unemployment

Unemployment by Race:

White – 3.6%
Black – 6.6%
Hispanic – 4.8%
Asian – 2.8%

Unemployment by Education level:

Less than high school – 5.9%
High school – 4.3%
Some college – 3.5%
Bachelor’s or higher – 2.1%

[BLS data is based on those 16 years of age and older.]

70% of Americans believe that undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. should be offered a chance for legal status. This includes 69% of southerners and 60% or more in each of the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.

26% nationwide and 28% in the South say these immigrants should be deported to the country from which they came. [NBC/Survey Monkey, 3/25/18]

A majority of the residents of 44 states support the right of same-sex couples to get married. This is up from 30 states in 2014. A majority of the residents of 6 states do not support this right: Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana and North Carolina. In Alabama, a majority oppose same-sex marriage.

61% of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. This includes 77% of those 18-29 years of age but only 47% of those age 65+.

[PRRI 2017, American Value Atlas]

For the first time ever the 2020 U.S. Census will ask about same sex relationships. The responses for “husband or wife” and “unmarried partners” will be broken out into “opposite-sex” and “same-sex” options. [NBC News]

The number of Americans without health insurance is growing. Since 2016 the number of uninsured has grown from 3% to 15.5%. [Commonwealth Fund, Axios]

As the country heads toward the midterm elections, Morning Consult asked 250,000 registered voters about the issues on their minds. Here are the results:

All Americans Republicans Independents Democrats
Economic 27% Security 35% Economic 20% Economic 24%
Security 21% Economic 29% Security 18% Health care 16%
Health care 17% Seniors 13% Health care 16% Seniors 20%
Seniors 16% Health care 12% Seniors 14% Security 11%
Education 7% Education 4% Education 8% Education 8%
Women’s 4% Women’s 2% Women’s 4% Women’s 6%
[Morning Consult – from 250,000 interviews]

In the next fiscal year the U.S. budget deficit will reach the modest amount of $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000). [A stack of a trillion one-dollar bills would go almost one quarter of the way to the moon and weigh approximately ten tons.]

Half of that amount will be the result of legislation that Congress passed in the last three years. []

20% of Americans now live in multigenerational households. That is about the same percentage of Americans who lived in these households in 1950. The low point was in 1980 when only 12% lived in multigenerational households.

The current 20% level represents 64 million people. The 21% who lived this way in 1950, represented 32.2 million people. Those 25-29 years of age are the most likely to live in multigenerational households. [Pew, 4/5/18]

There are signs that 18-29 year olds will be increasingly politically active in the years ahead. Here are some indicators of how much they trust various institutions. [WW has ranked them from most to least trusted]

  All/Most of the time Some/Never
College or University Admin 61 37
Local police department 52 45
U.S. Military 51 36
The Supreme Court 43 54
FBI 42 55
United Nations 40 56
Local government 38 60
EPA 38 59
U.S. Dept of Justice 35 62
State government 34 63
U.S. Dept of Education 29 68
Facebook 27 71
Twitter 27 70
U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 25 72
The President 22 75
Federal government 21 75
Congress 17 79
The media 16 80
Wall Street 12 85

This and That

National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) & Alliance for Period Supplies

The NDBN has established a new program dealing with yet another need of more women than you would ever imagine, the Alliance for Period Supplies.

The organization is comprised of allied programs that collect, warehouse and distribute menstrual period supplies in local communities.

The goal is to raise awareness of the fact that millions of women living in poverty miss out on daily life because they lack access to essential period products and to provide the necessary supplies to those in need.

1 in 4 women have struggled to purchase period supplies in the past year due to lack of income. A month’s worth of supplies costs a woman from $8-10.

U Kotex is a founding sponsor of the Alliance for Period Supplies. So far it has donated 2 million period products to help those in need.

Think about it this way: a woman with two children, one a six months old and the other a 2 year old, could be facing monthly costs for diapers and period supplies of $128 – $150 per month (diaper costs per child of $60-$70 and period supplies of $8-10).

To learn more and to contribute, go to

The average age of the members of Congress who questioned Mark Zuckerberg when he appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee is 61.5 years of age. Zuckerberg is 33. [WW]

In a new survey from the Winston Group (April 28-30), respondents were asked if capitalism or socialism is the better economic system.

52% said capitalism
17% said socialism
31% said they did not know

Among Democrats:
30% said capitalism
30% said socialism
39% were undecided

Among Moderate Democrats:
33% said capitalism
23% said socialism
44% were undecided

Among Liberal Democrats:
Split among all three with a slight edge toward socialism (35%).

Among those who said they voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016:
36% said capitalism
28% said socialism
36% did not know

There is a clear lack of consensus among Democrats about the best economic system.
[Winston Group, 5/3/18]

Do the benefits of college still outweigh the costs?

In recent years, students have been paying more to attend college and earning less upon graduation-trends that have led many observers to question whether a college education remains a good investment.

A key reason why a degree remains a relatively valuable asset despite rising tuition is that the wages of those Americans without a degree have been falling, keeping the college wage premium near an all-time high…Between 1970 and 2013, workers with a bachelor’s degree (excluding those who went on to a postgraduate degree) had annual earnings of about $64,500 after adjustment for inflation. Workers with an associate’s degree earned an adjusted $50,000 per year, and those with only a high school diploma earned $41,000. The authors calculate that, over four decades, workers with a bachelor’s degree earned on average 56 percent more and workers with an associate’s degree averaged 21 percent more than high school graduates.

Assuming that all workers retire at age 65 and that those who went to college spent 4 years in school to earn a bachelor’s degree or 2 years for an associate’s degree, workers with a bachelor’s degree earn well over $1 million more than high school graduates during their working lives. Workers with an associate’s degree earn about $325,000 more than high school graduates. [Fed Reserve Bank of NY, 11/3/14]

The wealthiest 10% of Americans own 77% of the wealth in the United States. The least wealthy 50% of Americans own 1.3% of the wealth in the United States. [Washington Post, 4/8/18]

The number of letters sent through the U.S. Post Office has declined by more than 40% since its peak in 2001. [Washington Post, 4/8/18]

There is at least one thing on which Republicans and Democrats agree. 50% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans wear jeans at least four days of the week. [Morning Consult, 5/3/18]

There were 4.5 million complaints about robo calls to the Federal Trade Commission in 2017. This is a 114% increase in the number of complaints received in 2015. [New York Times]

Does your heart rate jump when your iPhone battery dips below 20%?
When you realize your iPhone battery is at 7% do you get the feeling, “Oh my
God, I’m lost.” Do you find yourself fearful when you are completely out of mobile contact?

If the so, you have “nomophobia” – short for no-mobile-phobia. [Wall Street Journal, 5/5/18]

More on guns

There is increased support for a variety of new or enhanced gun laws.

By 72% to 26% there is support for raising the long gun buying age to 21.
85% support red flag laws.

57% say enacting laws to reduce gun violence is a priority as opposed to the 34% who say the priority should be protecting gun rights. This represents a substantial change since 2013 when 52% said the priority should be protecting gun rights with 40% supporting enacting new laws.

68% of women say it is a higher priority to reduce gun violence. Men split 46% to 45% when the choice is to reduce gun violence versus protecting gun rights.

By 62% to 35% folks support an assault weapons ban. In 2013, 53% opposed an assault weapons ban. [ABC/WP poll, 4/13/18]

A majority (57%) of teenagers are at least somewhat worried that a shooting could happen at their school. This includes 64% of girls and 51% of boys.

The level of their parents’ fear is connected to income. 82% of parents in households with an income less than $30,000 per year are at least somewhat worried. 64% of parents in households with income levels of $30,000 to $75,000 are worried. In households with income levels of $75,000 or higher only 53% are at least somewhat worried.

When it comes to adult views about what should be done to prevent school shootings there is bipartisan agreement for solutions like improving mental health screening and treatment, preventing people with mental health illnesses from purchasing guns and having metal detectors in schools. But that is where agreement ends.

81% of Republicans and R-leaning Independents favor allowing teachers to carry guns in schools. This is supported by only 24% of Democrats and D-leaning Independents.

78% of Democrats and D-leaning Independents support banning assault weapons. They are joined by 35% of Republicans and R-leaning Independents.
[PEW, 4/18/18]

“A striking detail stands out in nearly three decades of American mass school shootings: The killers mostly use guns owned by a family member, not purchased on their own.”

5% of students age 12-18 living in rural areas, 4.4% of students living in suburbs and 3.4% of students living in urban areas live in homes in which they have access to loaded guns without adult supervision.

5.2% of white teens, 3.3% of black teens and 2.8% of Hispanic teens live in households where they have access to loaded guns. [Wall Street Journal, 4/6/18]

Have the Baby Boomers made things better or worse for your generation?

  Worse No Difference Better
Millennials 51% 33% 13%
Gen X 42% 36% 19%
Boomers 30% 34% 32%
Silent Gen 32% 40% 24%
Total 40% 35% 22%

Millennials – ages 18 to 34
Generation X – ages 35 to 50
Boomers – ages 51 to 69
Silent Generation – ages 70 to 87

[Survey Monkey, 4/13/18]

Millennials (currently 71 million) are expected to surpass Boomers (currently 74 million) as the country’s largest living adult generation sometime in 2019. This is due to the number of millennials rising and the number of boomers declining. [Pew, 3/1/18]

Of the 1.379 billion people in China there are 34 million more men than women. Of the 1.324 billion people in India there are 37 million more men than women.

In the United States there are 100 women for every 97 men. [Washington Post, 4/18 & WW]

Starbucks has 15% of the U.S. coffee market. Dunkin’ Donuts has 6% and Nestle has 3%.